The Xiongnu and the Comparative Study of Empire

  title={The Xiongnu and the Comparative Study of Empire},
  author={Walter Scheidel},
This paper discusses state formation among the Xiongnu from a comparative perspective, arguing that it is legitimate to refer to their polity as an ‘empire.’ It also explores the applicability of a new theory that seeks to explain large-scale imperiogenesis with reference to structural tensions between steppe nomads and agriculturalists. 

Social Complexity, Inner Asia, and Pastoral Nomadism

  • N. Kradin
  • Economics
    Social Evolution & History
  • 2019
For many years scholars have interpreted the large polities of pastoral nomads of Inner Asia as having different levels of complexity (pre-state, early state, feudal society, nomadic civilization,

Political Complexity in Nomadic Empires of Inner Asia

The nomadic empires of Inner Asia are a unique historical phenomenon. Large mountain and steppe territories allowed hundreds of thousands of nomadic families to pursue their economic activities,

Climate shocks, dynastic cycles and nomadic conquests: evidence from historical China

Nomadic conquests have helped shape world history, yet we know little about why they occurred. Using a unique climate and dynastic data set from historical China dating from 221 BCE, this study finds

Retrodicting the rise, spread, and fall of large-scale states in the Old World

Understanding the rise, spread, and fall of large-scale states in the ancient world has occupied thinkers for millennia. However, no comprehensive mechanistic model of state dynamics based on their

Rise of the war machines: Charting the evolution of military technologies from the Neolithic to the Industrial Revolution

It is found that world population size, connectivity between geographical areas of innovation and adoption, and critical enabling technological advances, such as iron metallurgy and horse riding, are strong predictors of change in military technology, whereas state-level factors such as polity population, territorial size, or governance sophistication play no major role.



War and State-Building in Roman Republican Times

Dans une perspective anthropologique, comparatiste et socio-economique : le role de la guerre dans la construction de l'Etat romain, pour la cohesion sociale, l'exploitation des ressources. Le terme

Empire: A Very Short Introduction

1. Who's an Imperialist? 2. Ancient Empire 3. Empire by Land 4. Empire by Sea 5. Death of the Seaborne Empires 6. Death of the Land Empires 7. Afterlives and Rebirths of Empire 8. Studying Empires:

From the 'Great Convergence' to the 'First Great Divergence': Roman and Qin-Han State Formation and its Aftermath

This paper provides a synoptic outline of convergent trends in state formation in western and eastern Eurasia from the early first millennium BCE to the mid-first millennium CE and considers the

Empires: a problem of comparative history*

Most historians of empires probably start by assuming that what they are interested in are relatively large polities that consist of a ruling part (the metropolis) and other parts (colonies or


The formation of the Rouran khaganate was generated by the regional ternary structure in Inner Asia comprising the Song state (in southern China), the semi-nomadic buffer empire Toba Wei (in northern

Early State Theory and the Evolution of Pastoral Nomads

The problem of the emergence of the state is among the everlasting questions of the humanities and social sciences. To this subject, many books and papers were devoted. However, the majority of

The State: Its Nature, Development, and Prospects

Foreword. Part I:. 1. Social Power and its Political Form. 2. The Nature of the Modern State. 3. The Development of the Modern State (1). 4. The Development of the Modern State (2). 5. Controversies

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The Evolution of the Modern World, I: The Expanding and Evolving Modern World-System and II: The Emergence of the Institutions of Modernity are presented.

Why do we call Chinggis Khan’s Polity “An Empire”?

SUMMARY: Приближающееся 800-летие Великого курулутая, положившего начало державе Чингисхана, многократно усилило общественный и научный интерес к этому историческому деятелю и созданному им великому

Nomadism, Evolution and World-Systems: Pastoral Societies in Theories of Historical Development

This article discusses the problem of categorizing the polities and social formations of steppe pastoral nomads in Central Asia in comparative and civilizational perspective and placing complex